The Implications of Balogun’s New Deal
According to Sky Sports, Arsenal are on the verge of agreeing a new long-term deal with young striker Folarin Balogun, bringing the unnecessarily drawn-out contract saga to an end.
Balogun had been reluctant to sign a new deal over playing time concerns, and with his current deal running out this summer, the 19 year-old had a reported 15 clubs chasing his signature, including Bayer Leverkusen, Rennes, and Stuttgart. However, it appears Mikel Arteta and Edu have convinced the forward that his future is at the Emirates, with Balogun set to put pen to paper on a deal keeping him in North London until 2025.
The 19 year-old has an impressive record for Arsenal U23’s this season, scoring 8 and providing 2 assists in 16 PL2 games; his impressive form saw him nominated for the PL2 Player of the Month Award in January. The youngster has also impressed when given the opportunity to play first team football, bagging 2 goals and 1 assist in just 61 Europa League minutes, spread over 4 brief cameos. Given Arsenal’s poor goalscoring form this season, Balogun will have felt hard done by not to have featured more, but with a new deal pending, plenty more opportunities are on the horizon.
Having placed 41st in FourFourTwo’s recent list of the 50 most exciting teenagers in world football, Arsenal no doubt have a serious talent on their hands. But what does Balogun’s new deal, coupled with the current financial issues facing the club, mean for Arsenal’s current first team strikers?
Tweeting on the 9th of April, the reputable Charles Watts believes Balogun will become a first team regular next season as opposed to heading out for a year on loan. If this is the case, it could spell the end for Alex Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah.
With club captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang signing a 3 year contract extension in September 2020, worth a reported £350,000 a week, it’s safe to say he is going nowhere this summer. Likewise, Jurgen Klopp’s pick for ‘talent of the century’, Gabriel Martinelli, is currently undergoing a positional change, with Arteta keen to deploy him as a centre forward. The Brazilian has been regularly absent from the team since his return from injury, with many speculating he is working on centre forward positional play in training. If this is true, we’re likely to see Martinelli vying for the striker position next season. Add Balogun in the mix, and Arsenal would have a total of 5 strikers – an unnecessary amount.
Regarding Alex Lacazette, momentum is building that the 29 year-old will leave the Gunners this summer. The Frenchman is entering the last year of his contract in July; if Arsenal are unwilling to offer him a new deal, selling the Frenchman seems the most plausible option, especially given the current financial difficulties the club is facing. With Lacazette turning 30 at the end of May, Arteta may not want to be stuck with another ageing striker taking minutes away from budding young talents, and look to move him on this summer. In terms of potential destinations, Atlético Madrid and Roma are said to be interested in the 29 year-old, with the Serie A outfit reportedly set to make an offer in the upcoming window.
Balogun’s new deal could also spell trouble for Eddie Nketiah. After being linked with a January move, Nketiah may seek a move to pastures new in the summer, having fallen out of favour at the Emirates. Despite being fully fit, the 21 year-old has not featured for the Gunners since the 30th of January, and regularly fails to make the bench in the Premier League. Nketiah is undoubtedly a goal-threat, having surpassed Alan Shearer’s record tally for the England U21’s – but with Balogun entering the fray, Nketiah may be sold this summer to bring in funds for a permanent move for Martin Ødegaard or a new right back.
With the 2021-2022 season fast approaching, it looks like Arsenal will be going into the new campaign with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Gabriel Martinelli and Folarin Balogun as their strikers of choice. But will Arteta seek to bring in fresh blood to add more attacking depth to his squad – Odsonne Edouard perhaps?
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